The city of Tenochtitlán was the capital of which ancient civilization?
And the answer is: Aztec.
Modern-day Mexico City is founded on the ruins of the former Aztec capital city, known as Tenochtitlán. At its peak it was considered to be the largest city in Mesoamerica, with an estimated 300,000 people. In 1521, the city was largely destroyed by a siege led by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.
Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 upon an unclaimed marshy island in Lake Texcoco. Legend has it that the land was marked by god Huitzilopochtli, who had urged the Mashiki tribe to seek out an eagle perched atop a prickly cactus (this depiction can now be seen on the Mexican flag). Life began on the island with meager conviction – there were few building supplies available, and the local people lived off the flora and fauna of the water.
Soon, growth began to take hold. Over the decades, developments in construction projects, trade, and drainage helped the city expand. Tenochtitlán found solidarity with its neighboring city of Tlatelolco, and the two groups often worked, traded and fought together. Eventually, growth brought the two cities together for good. While both cities initially maintained separate governments and identities, a family quarrel ultimately proved the jurisdiction of Tenochtitlán, naming it as the ruler of the region.
At the center of the city, the Sacred Precinct could be found. Within its walls lay a wide plaza holding about a dozen important structures, perhaps most prominently of which was the Great Temple. At 16 meters tall, the twin-peaked temple had two shrines dedicated to deities Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, respectively. While such a feat is impressive even today, Tenochtitlán was home to magnitudes of such magnificent, colorful temples and holy structures.
Before Spanish inquisition, Tenochtitlán was a haven of immeasurable innovation, culture and life. To learn more about the history of this ancient city, check out the video below.